Terry Rolin, 79, was born and raised near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked for many years as a railroad engineer, but retired in 1994. Terry acquired the habit of squirreling money away around his home from his parents, who grew up during the Great Depression and didn’t like to keep their money in banks. For years, Terry withdrew some of his Railroad Retirement benefits in cash and hid the money in envelopes in the walls and rafters of the unfinished basement in the family home, just like his mother used to do. Sometimes he even saw envelopes hidden in the same places by his mother.
In the fall of 2018, the upkeep of his family home was getting to be too difficult for him. Terry purchased a garden apartment. When he moved, the envelopes of money hidden by him and his parents were packed into various moving boxes.
As he unpacked in his new home, Terry realized the cash totaled more than $80,000. Terry was uncomfortable leaving so much cash in his one-bedroom apartment. While his daughter, Rebecca Brown, was visiting in late August 2019, Terry asked her to take the cash and deposit it in a new joint bank account so that she could help him manage the money to pay for expenses including replacing his teeth and fixing his truck.
Rebecca was only in town for the weekend and the banks had already closed, so she decided to take the money home with her and deposit it there. The money was seized from Rebecca as she tried to fly home to Boston from the Pittsburgh International Airport. Now the federal government is trying to take Terry’s savings using civil forfeiture even though it is perfectly legal to travel with any amount of cash. Neither Terry nor Rebecca have done anything wrong nor been charged with any crime.